Dr. Tara's "Fave Five": Going Green for 2019

Hard to believe 2019 is here already!  I want to thank you for your ongoing support and for taking the time to read my blogs and posts.  I know how busy everyone is, so I truly appreciate it.

The "Fave Five" emails have been super popular (and they're fun to write too!), so they will definitely continue into the New Year.  The last one was about setting goals, realizing your dreams, and living with purpose and intention, so be sure to check it out here if you missed it.

One thing I noticed after posting was that all three of the featured recipes were chocolatey!  Now perhaps that's not surprising given that it was written over the Christmas holidays, but I figure a little green action might be in order for January.

1. Eat Your Greens

Here are some nutritious and delicious recipes to get you eating more of those wonderful leafy greens!  Dark greens like kale, spinach and arugula are incredibly nutrient-dense and chock-full of vitamins, minerals, anti-inflammatory antioxidants, and insoluble fibre.

For example, one cup of raw spinach contains only 7 calories but is an excellent source of vitamins A, C & K, folate, manganese, magnesium, and iron.  Often considered one of the world's healthiest foods, it is also loaded with fibre and disease-fighting antioxidants including lutein and zeaxanthin.

“Popeye Proats” (overnight protein oats with spinach — trust me!)

Green Shakshuka (a Middle Eastern dish with eggs poached in a spicy vegetable stew)

“ASK For It” Smoothie (an apple, spinach and kale blend)

“ASK FOR IT” Green Smoothie

“ASK FOR IT” Green Smoothie

2. Drink Green: The Benefits of Matcha Green Tea

I was properly introduced to matcha in Kyoto by the young Japanese "stranger" I wrote about in my blog “Discovering the Power of Human Connection in the Strangest Places”.  To this day, every time I drink it, I think of her.

Photo credit Pexels.com

Photo credit Pexels.com

Matcha is made by grinding high quality nutrient-rich green tea leaves into a fine powder.  It has a beautiful green colour and a unique, complex taste with a balance of naturally sweet, malty, bitter and earthy vegetal notes.  It is packed with anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, disease-fighting phytochemicals including the subgroup of antioxidants called catechins.  One particular catechin, EGCg, is widely recognized for its anti-cancer properties. Matcha is also used to induce a sense of calm while simultaneously boosting energy, concentration, memory and metabolism.

Of note, matcha does contain caffeine — approximately 35 mg in a 1/2 tsp serving (so 70 mg if you use 1 tsp). This compares to 95 mg in one 8-oz cup of brewed black coffee, 45 mg in a standard cup of black tea, and 154 mg in a Starbucks Grande Americano.

For most healthy adults, 300 to 400 mg of caffeine can be consumed per day with no adverse effects. I generally recommend that it be consumed before mid-afternoon to avoid insomnia. However, some people are extremely caffeine sensitive and cannot drink a single cup of coffee without feeling jittery and anxious. That being said, the caffeine in matcha is often better tolerated, and may boost energy and focus without the coffee-like “crash”.

Caffeine is generally not recommended for children. However, I am personally ok with my school-aged children eating the occasional matcha bliss ball or matcha-containing smoothie (I just use a smaller amount).

Matcha Pistachio Bliss Balls

Matcha Pistachio Bliss Balls

The website Food Joy page features a variety of matcha-based recipes, but I’ve posted a few of my favourites below.

Matcha Pistachio Bliss Balls (portable no-bake protein balls)

“Matchacado Marvel” Smoothie (a creamy and satisfying matcha and avocado blend)

Loaded Matcha Latte (a quick and easy matcha latte with a boost of healthy fats and protein)

3. Green Living Kitchen Hack: Reusable Food Wrap

When it comes to sustainable living, I believe we all have a role to play.  I do my best to minimize food waste and use environmentally-friendly products.  I love my S’well water bottle, stainless steel straws and extra large Corkcicle coffee mug (it pretty much comes everywhere with me!).  One of my goals for this year is to reduce the amount of plastic wrap we’re using in the kitchen. I recently stocked up on Abeego beeswax wrap and I absolutely love it (not sponsored).  It’s 100% natural, durable, and easy to clean. You can check it out here!

PHOTO Credit @abeego

PHOTO Credit @abeego

4. Reduce, Reuse & Recycle: Start by Decluttering

Every January, I take some time to organize.  When the kids were younger, this often involved sifting through their outgrown toys and books and getting a couple of boxes together for donation.  This year, I plan to tackle my own clothes and books and hopefully persuade my husband to clean up the garage! It feels great to declutter and donate the things we’re no longer using to those in need.  If you’re looking for some inspiration in this department, I suggest reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.  Honestly, you’ll never look back.

5. Quote of the Day

“Buy less, choose well, make it last.” - Vivienne Westwood

Wishing you all the best for the New Year ahead!

Dr. Tara